NEW YORK — Chase Headley can only hope one successful swing leads to a lot more.
Stuck in a deep slump, Headley homered for his first extra-base hit this season, helping the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 7-3 on May 12.
“It’s been a long time,” Headley said. “Felt like it’s been a really long time.”
Headley ended a drought of 170 at-bats since his last home run, dating to last year. That from a guy who hit 31 homers with 115 RBIs for San Diego in 2012 and still is counted on to provide some power.
Headley has been working long hours in the batting cage lately and seeking advice from many hitters, including Yankees Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
The third baseman began the day batting just .178, although his recent swings had Manager Joe Girardi thinking “he was starting to look like the Chase Headley we knew.”
Headley and Didi Gregorius hit two-run homers, and Starlin Castro added a solo shot to boost the Yankees.
Kansas City dropped three of four at Yankee Stadium and has lost 12 of 16 overall.
“I’ll just be happy to get home. It seems like we haven’t been home in a year. We have a real comfort level there and enjoy playing at home,” Royals Manager Ned Yost said.
Nathan Eovaldi (3-2) worked around eight hits in five innings, and overcame getting struck on the leg by Lorenzo Cain’s hard one-hopper at the outset.
On Eovaldi’s last pitch, Salvador Perez nearly launched a go-ahead, three-run homer, but right fielder Carlos Beltran caught the ball at the top of the wall. Eovaldi wiped his brow as he walked off the mound while Perez put both hands on the top of his helmet.
“Luckily, he was able to make the play,” Eovaldi said.
Relievers Kirby Yates and Dellin Betances each followed with a perfect inning to hold a 5-3 lead. After the Yankees scored twice more, Andrew Miller worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Chasen Shreve threw a scoreless ninth.
Alex Gordon hit a solo home run and an RBI single for Kansas City. The Royals outhit the Yankees 9-7.
Ian Kennedy (4-3) lost in his first game back in the Bronx since the Yankees traded him after the 2009 season.
Castro homered in the first, then Headley connected in the second.
“A step in the right direction,” Headley said. “Still got a long way to go.”
Gregorius hit a two-run drive in the fourth.
Chien-Ming Wang, another former Yankees pitcher, gave up an RBI single to Castro and a bases-loaded walk to Brian McCann in the seventh.
(BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer)